Portobello Mushrooms 101

Portobello Mushroom

They might not be the most appealing crop on the shelf, but when cooked and seasoned, Portobello mushrooms treat us to a memorable, smoky taste. While they are great on the grill, Portobello mushrooms are also added to stir-fry dishes and sauces to enhance flavor. The rare, yet essential nutrients found in Portobello mushrooms serve as a unique bonus for your health.

Identification

Portobello mushrooms are distinguished from their other fungi relatives by their large, flat, golden- brown cap. Dark gills make up the underside of the cap. The mushroom’s stem is short, thick, and white. Portobello mushrooms also have a slightly firmer texture than other mushrooms.

Taste

Portobello mushrooms have a taste and texture that is similar to meat. In fact, many vegetarians take advantage of the Portobello mushroom’s rich meaty taste by using it in burgers or as a substitute for steak. The mushrooms’ smoky and earthy flavor can be best enjoyed when they are grilled, roasted, or sautéed, and seasoned with fresh herbs, garlic, and onions.

Availability

Portobello mushrooms are widely available alongside other mushrooms at supermarkets and food stores.

Season

Portobello mushrooms are available all year round, but you’ll find the freshest selection between December and March.

Selection

Fresh Portobello mushrooms look clean and plump. To pick the best mushrooms, hold a few in your hand and press them gently. Both the cap and the stem should feel solid.

Avoid mushrooms that feel slimy or soft. If the mushroom is slippery, it means it’s already decomposing.

Organic Benefits

When deciding whether to purchase organic or non-organic produce, it’s helpful to know which fruits and vegetables are most affected by pesticides. Pesticides are toxins used to kill insects, invasive plants, and fungi during the growth of produce, and are potentially dangerous to people. National and international agencies agree that prolonged exposure to specific pesticides through food consumption is a potential health risk. Additionally, some studies indicate that organic fruits and vegetables have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than conventionally raised produce.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a consumer guide ranking 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue. The higher the rank, the lower the residue. Portobello mushrooms, like other mushrooms, are very porous, thus easily absorb pesticides and other farming chemicals. They are ranked 35 on EWG’s pesticide residue list. Purchase organically grown portobello mushrooms if concerned about possible contamination.

Additionally, organic portobello mushrooms contain a particular compound called “conjugated linolenic acid,” which is believed to reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancer. For this reason, organic mushrooms may be your best option.

The Environmental Working Group and Yoffie Life stress that consuming conventionally grown vegetables and fruits when the organic version is unavailable or financially impossible is far better than eating none at all.

Storage

Always store mushrooms in a paper bag before placing them in the refrigerator. Make sure that the mushrooms are fairly spaced out and not clumped together. Their freshness lasts longer if they have minimum surface contact with one another. Keep mushrooms in the fridge for up to ten days.

Preparation

Mushrooms are very porous and will instantly absorb water and turn soggy if placed under water. To clean mushrooms, wipe with a damp cloth or invest in a mushroom brush to remove dirt from the cap.

When only eating the mushroom cap, gently detach the stems with your hands. If cooking the stem, remove the bottom quarter of the stem as it tends to be a bit soft.

Portobello mushrooms can be roasted, fried, grilled, baked, or stuffed. Mushrooms are commonly used as a key ingredient in soups, omelets, salads, and rice dishes.

Nutrition Summary

Copper

Immune builder.

Helps with iron absorption, and regulates your blood pressure and heart rate. Needed to produce melanin, which colors hair and skin.

Selenium

Immune builder.

A trace mineral needed to prevent cell damage from free radicals, regulate the thyroid, and keep your immune system healthy.

B6 (Pyridoxine)

Healthy eyes and heart.

Needed to form red blood cells and various neurotransmitters. Helps maintain nerve function, a healthy immune system, and healthy antibodies to neutralize viruses and bacteria.

Potassium

Builds muscle, and maintains normal body growth, as well as heart and respiratory health.

 

Health Benefits & Medical Claims

Portobello mushrooms contain two of the rarest nutrients: copper and selenium. One medium-size Portobello mushroom contains 21 percent of the recommended daily intake of selenium, and one-third of the recommended daily intake of copper. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the immune system. Copper stimulates iron absorption from food, which contributes to healthier bones and lowers the risk of anemia.

Little Known Facts
  1. One Portobello mushroom contains more potassium than a banana.
  2. The Portobello mushrooms are overgrown white mushrooms (cremini), which explains the wider cap and stronger flavor.
  3. It is only in recent years that Portobello mushrooms have been placed on the market. Up until the 1980s, Portobello mushrooms used to be treated like weeds and were thus discarded.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Yoffie Life disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.